push up

Every Hour on the Hour

Every Hour on the Hour

What fun! Last night while tucking my kids into their beds, I was discussing with them the importance of keeping the body moving throughout the day. I try to impart that doing 30 minutes to one hour of intense physical activity per day does not cancel out the negative effects of prolonged sitting. This article written in 2011 from The New York Times discusses the subject: The Hazards of the Couch.

“Many of us sit in front of a computer for eight hours a day, and then go home and head for the couch to surf the Web or watch television, exchanging one seat and screen for another. Even if we try to squeeze in an hour at the gym, is it enough to counteract all that motionless sitting?

A mounting body of evidence suggests not.

Increasingly, research is focusing not on how much exercise people get, but how much of their time is spent in sedentary activity, and the harm that does.”

It is the kids summer holidays after all, and aside from registering our kids for some half day camps or a week of one hour swim lessons, as a family we have agreed that summertime is the kids time to have their own kind of down time. My husband and I are a lot more lenient about how much time they spend on screens each day. I am usually busy in the kitchen, grocery shopping or doing various household chores and when I’m lucky I can sneak in an hour here or there of my own screen time to write posts like this one; but not all at once. I usually have to jump up from my desk to let the dog in or out, or for various other Mom-job reasons. For example, I started writing this post about forty minutes ago and have gotten up from my seat about twenty times already.

View from Top of Grouse

Both my husband and I are hyper sensitive to the immobility induced factor which is screen time of any kind. My husband works from home and all of of his work involves screens and conference calls. He has figured out how to ensure that he does not become chained to his desk. Quite simply: He moves. He stretches at his desk. He does push ups. Between calls he’ll run ten flights of stairs, which at most takes a minute and a half. He’ll do a set of chin ups. He’ll walk the dog. And a couple of times per week from Spring till Fall he’ll hike Grouse Mountain (Grouse Grind). Aside from that he spends 15 minutes in the gym three times per week lifting heavy weights and sprints a mile at the track once or twice a week. He just turned 52 years old and is getting better all the time.

So back to the kids. Last night I was pointing out how easy it is for them to spend hours a day on their handheld device, Wii or desktop computer, without moving. My son paraphrased that he should get up and do something every forty-five minutes. So I leaped at the opportunity and offered that starting in the morning we could experiment with a little bit of activity every hour on the hour! They loved the idea. Concepts are fantastic, but meaningless without action.

By 8am this morning, my son had already spent one hour on his computer! I had already done my bed stretches and morning routine and while putting in the first load of laundry of the day, I told my son that it was time to start his Hour on the Hour Practice. But he countered, “It hasn’t been an hour yet.” It’s quite amazing how quickly time slips away when we are staring at a screen.

True to his word, he got up from his chair and did 50 high knees, then got back to his screen. (He did eat breakfast)

9am: Son did 10 Push Ups followed by a doorway chest stretch. then back to his screen. (I did them after him and he complemented me on my form which made me laugh).

9am: Dot slept in but did her first set of 25 Jumping Jacks to start.

10am: Son and I did 25 Jumping Jacks, then back to his screen./ Dot did 5 Pull Ups.

11am: Son, Dot and I did 10 times flight of stairs.

12 noon: Son will do 5 standing roll downs, I will do 5 Sun Salutations, Dot will do 50 high knees.

We will do nothing until later in the day because we will go to the pool for 1:30pm. I will swim for 30minutes while the kids have their one hour swimming lesson.

I wanted to share this with you today. It is simple, yet it takes self-discipline to make it happen. Precision of movement is paramount but we cannot even begin to work on that if we haven’t got a regular daily practice under our belt. We have to know what we are doing before we can work on the details.

Try to understand this very important point: The amount of time we spend doing an activity is meaningless if what we are doing is done mindlessly without precision.

Exercise is multifaceted.

First things first. Take responsibility for your health. Once you develop a consistent daily body maintenance practice I can help you to see and fine tune the details.

And while you are at it, drink some water every hour on the hour!

Burpees

Learning Series:

Do You See What I See?

For the uninitiated, the word BURPEES sounds more like something a newborn does.

Burpees, in fact, is a compound exercise. A compound exercise, is an exercise that involves more than one major muscle group and more than one joint at a time, such as the Squat. Burpees is a four or five part exercise involving different compound exercises. In contrast to an isolation exercise, which focuses on one muscle group and one joint at a time, for example: the bicep curl.

an exercise of biceps

an exercise of biceps (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you have not been following a regular exercise program or feel very out of shape, I would NOT recommend starting with Burpees. I would direct you to my 4 Minute Morning Progression Series, which teaches the foundation exercises for Burpees over the course of 14 weeks. As a result of following the graduated program, the body’s joint systems (ligaments, tendons, muscles and cartilage) will adapt to these movements. Learning this way allows us to focus on each part of the compound exercise, which will ensure good alignment so that when we put all the parts together, we won’t become sloppy.

When we exercise with good alignment, our movement becomes more efficient. When we move efficiently, we reduce wear and tear on our joints and muscles, which in turn supports a faster reaction time and optimal performance. Exercising longer, while out of alignment – though it may feel good mentally to know that we have burned a certain amount of calories – the end result, being the attack on our joints and muscles and skeletal system will have negated the effort in the first place. Exercise, whether for weight loss, maintenance or for peak sport performance, requires a delicate balance in many areas.

We may be able to fool our MIND,

with supplements or secret training practices,

but the BODY cannot be fooled.

Train smart, right from the start. Less is more. If we exercise with precision of movement as our primary focus, and be consistent, the results will come.

 “Build it, and they will come.”

-(Field of Dreams)

I’ve put together a little instructional video, which explains a common mistake that I was making. But I only realized that I was making this mistake once I started filming myself. Once again, I would like to encourage you to film yourself so that you can start to analyze how you are moving through your exercises.

I’ve tried to edit this video to keep it as short as possible, but as you may have noticed, I have a lot to say. Also, it is a lot harder (and time consuming) to make instructional videos than it first appears. I used my phone to record this video, though I had both my good camera and phone set up – but would you guess that I didn’t press record on the camera! Anyhow, I hope that it is the content of the video that will provide you with some useful information as opposed to judging it based solely on the lousy quality of the visual product.

For those not able to view the video, I am discussing the breakdown of Burpees. The most common error is to NOT do a complete squat but rather pass through it. The reason most will pass through the squat is due to restricted range of motion at our joints, i.e. tight musculature and fascia. Not performing the squat can lead to rounding from the back, which is not ideal.

There are two squats in Burpees. I have come to know Burpees as detailed below; though some call it Burpees Push Up (because it includes the Push Up). A classic Burpee may be done without the Push Up.

1. Squat

2. Plank

3. Push Up

4. Squat

5. Jump Squat

6. Repeat sequence

Also, I’d like to talk about the placement of our legs during the squat. There is a tendency to do a lot of exercises in a wide stance. This is OK from time to time, but important to understand that in order to develop a well-balanced body, our exercise program has to also be well-balanced. Always doing exercises in a wide stance or that are always recruiting the same muscles is not a well-balanced approach. There really is a science to exercise prescription. Though it can seem unlikely for some, anyone can muster up the drive to work hard. Working hard and for long duration alone, is not what will deliver a functionally fit body. So in my video, I venture to explain, (though very briefly and with basic language in an effort to be understood by everyone), how we should focus on parallel alignment, being the alignment, which is essential for our joints to function optimally. When we walk, the ideal placement is to have our feet and knees aligned in parallel. When we deviate from this tracking, our joints encounter wear and tear. By doing exercise OUT of alignment, our muscles become stronger in this unbalanced pattern, which further contributes to misalignment.

When we have limitation in our joints, our movement is restricted. When our movement is restricted we (unknowingly) compensate, which leads to overuse and contributes to faulty biomechanics.

What can you do?

  • Be consistent with stretches that are specific to YOUR restricted range of motion.

  • Do exercises that will support optimal range of motion in YOUR body.

I have found that when I practice my exercises (be it stairs, swim drills or Burpees), if I focus on precision then I am not able do as much; my weaker muscles will fatigue sooner. This is a good thing. This means that I am strengthening my weaker links. If I continuously train out of alignment and with brute force, then I am just repeating patterns that are only going to take me further from my goals. My goals being: having a body that is aligned and runs efficiently with the least amount of wear and tear.

Please note: when lifting very heavy loads, it is a good idea to take a wider stance for the squat.

Below is the video of me showing how to do a

4 Minute Tabata of Burpees.

8 Rounds of two intervals.

Interval #1 =  10 seconds REST + Interval #2 = 20 seconds Maximum # of Repetitions of Burpees

I was able to complete 4.5 – 4 Burpees during each 20 second interval. Which translates to doing 32 Burpees in 4 Minutes. 

That’s:

  • 64 Squats
  • 32 Planks
  • 32 Push Ups
  • 32 Jump Squats

Wow! I never thought about it like that before! No wonder it does the trick!

Also, I notice that as I get more fatigued I tend to lift my hips UP as I jump back to plank. See if you can spot that. So I will work on keeping my hips more level with the ground as I jump back into plank.

10 for 10 Workout

This was my workout for today.

Ten different exercises in 10 minutes.

After I designed this workout and re-read it, I actually said out loud, “this is going to be tough.” And it was, but in a good way. But funny how now that I’m sitting here writing it out for my blog, it seems like a distant memory. Get the workout done and move on – my body maintenance isn’t an event anymore, it’s required, just part of being here.

Warm up 

  • roll out ITB with Travel Roller
  • 10x flights of stairs by two’s going up and single steps going down
  • light stretches.

Set timer for:

10 Rounds of two intervals to equal 10 minutes

  1. 10 seconds Rest interval
  2. 50 seconds Maximum Effort interval

Each exercise will be performed only once through, which is one of my favourite styles…do it right the first time because there’s no second chances. Which, in my opinion is good training for life!

1. Dynamic Squat: 34

2. Chin Ups (reverse grip – palms face body): 11

3. Sandbag Tap Down (alternating legs): 32

    • I used a household step stool
    • I turn it around so the little step is out of the way
    • Start standing with both feet on top
    • Hugging sandbag above chest – parallel to floor
    • Step down w/Right leg- tap right foot to floor – return right foot to top of step
    • Step down Left leg – tap left foot to floor – return left foot to top of step
    • Each tap down counts as 1 rep

4. Feet Elevated Push Ups: 25                                               (my feet were elevated on a 24″ plyo box)

5. Straight Arm Hanging Leg Raises: 12

6. Prisoner Jump Squats: 25

7. Bicycle Abs: 60

8. Santana Push Ups: 12  (each push up counts as 1 Rep)

9. High Knees: 133

10. Burpees: 10

Cool down w/ 4 x 100 reps skipping w/rope

+ 45 minutes Ashtanga Yoga

  • approx. 20 minutes Standing Series
  • approx. 20 minutes Seated Series (first 12 seated postures including 3 backbends)
  • approx. 5 minutes closing sequence – no inversions + Savassana

Post workout meal:

  • Water
  • Real unprocessed Turkey slices
  • Fresh steamed curly green Kale (re-heated from last night)
  • Roasted Butternut squash + sweet potato w/ginger – chili peppers – cilantro – green onion – lime juice (re-heated)
I think anyone can try this workout, but at their own level.
  • If Chin Ups are just not happening you can simply practice hanging with straight arms from the bar – that alone will start to develop the strength needed to build up to the actual chin up.
  • No chin up bar? Leave it out and make it a 8 for 8 Workout.
  • Modified Push ups instead of feet elevated…maybe even just doing the wall press.

My point is, that there is always a way to modify any workout to suit your individual level. You can cut out exercises and make a it a 5 for 5 Workout…etc.

When I get some time I will add some links and hopefully more pictures to make the workout more clear.

12 Minute Full Body Workout

chili peppers

This is Today’s 12 Minute Full Body Workout.

Ate breakfast a little later than usual because the kids were both feeling under the weather, which changed the morning schedule somewhat. Got the kids to school, cleaned up the kitchen, changed bed sheets and put in a load of laundry so that I could do my workout without falling behind on chores AND before I would need to eat again!

Warmed up with 10 x flights of stairs (up by two’s – down by single steps). Each flight up and down equals 1 x + light stretches.

18 Rounds of two intervals:

10 seconds Rest + 30 seconds Maximum Effort

Complete the six exercises in order then repeat the sequence two more times to equal three times through.     (Hover over the exercise name to open a window to view the exercise description. I’m working on adding photos of the others.)

1.Dynamic Squat : 22 – 20 – 19

2.Reverse Push Up (w/ Dip Stand): 18 – 17 – 16 

3. Ninja Jump + Jump Tuck: 7 – 7 – 7

4. Feet Elevated Push Ups: 16 – 16 – 16

5. Sandbag- Alternating Leg Tap down                                     (start from top of step stool): 19 – 21 – 19

6. Straight Arm Hanging Leg Raises                                          (toes touch top of door frame): 9 – 9 – 9

A)  Incorrect  Do NOT Do This (left)

B) Correct End Position (below)

It is important to keep the knees slightly bent and initiate the movement from the abdominals. Tip the upper part of the pelvis backward causing the pubis to curl up towards your face, which in turn will cause the legs to move up toward the top of the door frame. This requires a lot of strength and practice. Initially, start by just hanging with straight arms from the pull up bar. Gradually, over days or weeks try to tip the pelvis as described without even attempting to lift the legs. Trying to achieve too much too soon can result in using the Psoas muscle to lift the legs as is seen in the first diagram (above left: A) – this is incorrect – Do NOT do this.

As seen in B) the correct movement shows a rounded lower back. Think ‘angry cat’ back except you are also curling your tail bone under in the direction of the pubis. Tail bone chases pubis -not sure how else to describe it at the moment. 🙂

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Cool down 4 x 100 skips w/ jump rope (legs parallel)

+45 Minutes Ashtanga Yoga Standing Series (including first 12 seated postures -a few vinyasa + 3 Backbends + close).

Transfered laundry and by 11 am, had my post workout meal (thankful for leftovers):

Fresh panfried Halibut with homemade caramelized onions on a bed of brown rice noodles. A side of roasted Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash w/ Lime Juice, Olive Oil, Cilantro, Ginger and Chili peppers. And Steamed curly Green Kale. Glass of Water. One Square of chocolate.

I haven’t stepped out of the kitchen since!

I’ve been preparing a different recipe for Lamb Stew, adapted from Beef a la Provencal from Lucy Waverman at the Globe and Mail…It is so amazing. I made it two weeks ago and it was delicious. Only draw back is that it takes so long to make. I will post the recipe another time.

However, during this food prep, I had my third meal – LUNCH at around 1pm…homemade turkey soup, except I had twice the amount shown in this picture below. I’ll share that recipe another time too, only, first I have to show you how to make your own Turkey Stock, which makes ALL the difference.

Today’s Time Challenge

When I first mentioned to friends and family what I wanted to accomplish with this site, I got a mix of reviews. I said that my goal was to help people to better understand how to exercise properly. Some told me that it wouldn’t work because “people” don’t want to know how to do things – they don’t want to spend time learning how, they just want the quick fix…show them what to do but forget about teaching them anything.

This hurt.

I didn’t want to believe this. And I don’t. I do realize that for many this may be true, but now, since having started this site I know that there are many who do want to know how and are willing to spend the time on learning. Even if this were to reach only one person, I will keep sharing.

Today I did Zuzka Light’s ZWOD II workout but made a modification to suit me. I find that a lot of the workouts I follow incorporate too many plank type exercises for me. You will understand what I’m talking about if you’ve read my post on how doing too many push ups can have a negative effect, click here.

In any case, the main thing is to find a way to get motivated to move and stretch our body daily, but equally important not to throw caution to the wind and do things mindlessly, just because someone says so.

Just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you should.

We need to practice mindfulness and choose wisely.

Yes, I can do a lot of push ups, but that doesn’t mean I should do an excessive amount in one workout. I show my modification in grey (what I did in place of the 10 twisted push ups).

I had been doing house cleaning prior to my workout, while digesting my lunch – got to make the most of my time! So my official warm up was only 5x flights of stairs by two’s going up + single steps going down + light active stretching.

ZWOD II  – My modification in grey.

Complete three rounds for time. I finished in 15:54.

1. 5 Man Makers (I used pair of 10 lb. dumbells)

2. 20 Low Burpee Hops

3. 10 Twisted Push Ups

3. 5x [10 Reps Kick Ups + 1 Pull Up] (forward grip)

4. 25 Competition Sit-Ups

click here to see the video and how to do the exercises.

Exercises #1, 2 & 3 all involve a plank position. Recruiting the same muscle groups. For me this would have been excessive to have repeated three rounds.

Exercise #4 is a great choice because by dropping the knees out to the side with soles of the feet together (butterfly), the effect helps to cancel out the Psoas muscle. When we do a classic full sit-up, once we pass the crunch phase (the first quarter of the movement) the Psoas then engages and does the work to haul the torso up to sitting; this is not ideal since most people have chronically tight Psoas. In order to do this Competition Sit-Up exercise properly and effectively, it is important that the spine (especially at the lumbar region) be flexible enough to round into the ground as the body curls up to sitting. If the lower back (lumbar region) flattens out then I would advise the individual to stick with 1/4 crunches and work on increasing the flexibility of the lower back and psoas.

4 x 100 skips w/ rope to cool down.

40 Minutes Ashtanga Yoga Standing Series (including first 12 seated postures – no vinyasa – +3 Back bends + closing sequence)

People who cannot find time for recreation are obliged sooner or later to find time for illness.

John Wanamaker

My 12 Minute ‘Kitchen Sink’ Workout

English: Kitchen sink drain Deutsch: Abfluss i...

Today’s 12 Minute ‘Kitchen Sink’ Workout

Today I practice Yoga, but before I start, I like to warm up. And because my workouts are so short I figure that they make for a great warm up! Because I’ve got a lot of things to get done around the house (which I tend to fall behind on regardless) I find that these SHORT workouts help to energize as opposed to deplete. As a result, I find that I have more energy and TIME to do the things that are important to me and my family.

My workouts aren’t an EVENT anymore, they are simply the required set of exercises to maintain my physical body so that I can BE and DO and LIVE.

I felt like doing a 12 Minute workout today but didn’t want to repeat exercises so I decided to follow the Keep It Hard for 12 Minutes template from BodyRock Tv. I wanted to use my sandbag and medicine ball to change things up a bit. Below is what I put together.

I warmed up with 10x flights of stairs. Up by two’s down by single steps. Up + down = 1 x. Followed by some light active stretching.

INSTRUCTIONS:

Set Timer for: 12 Rounds of 10 seconds Rest + 50 seconds Maximum Effort

Do as many reps in each 50 second interval as possible with precision. One exercise for each round, which means you don’t have to revisit that exercise – so go for maximum effort.

1. Chin Ups (Reverse Grip – palms face towards body)    My score: 12

2. Start w/Sandbag on floor between legs. Squat down to lift SB to Right Shoulder + Squat as SB lands on R Shoulder + Straighten up + Squat to Lower SB to floor between legs + Straighten up = 1 Rep – Repeat to Left Shoulder – Alternating shoulders. (Therefore, you do three squats per side to equal 1 Rep) My score: 14

3. Mountain Climbers, My score: 128

4. Straight Arm Hanging Leg Raises (rounding lower back to raise legs up – toes touch top of door frame),               My score: 12

5. Alternating Side Jump Lunges w/ 8lb. Medicine Ball tap down, My score: 37

6. Lying 6 inch Leg Raises, My score: 21    

7. Santana Push UpsMy score: 12

8. Bicycle Abs, My score: 64

9. Dips (using Dip Stand), My score: 10 + 5 assisted

10. Jump Lunges , My score: 35

11. Prisoner Get Up , My score: 9

12. Burpees (includes push up and squat jump),              My score: 12.5

Cool down with 4 x 100 skips w/ rope

+40 Minutes Ashtanga Yoga Standing Series (includes first 12 seated postures –a few vinyasa scattered in today– + 3 Backbends + closing sequence).

After my workout, Stella was up and walking around.

What you have to know, is Stella is an ageing Rhodesian Ridgeback. Come March, she’ll be 15 years old. (That’s ancient for a Ridgeback, who’s lifespan on average is ten years). Her walks, however, aren’t much of a walk anymore – they’re more of a sniff. See picture – notice the snow covered snout. She has become very arthritic and she moves very slowly and cautiously. Her walks take a long time and don’t really cover much ground. She sleeps more during the day than she used to. I send her out throughout the day, just in the backyard to sniff around and to exercise her legs. She’s got to keep moving, just like us. Once she stops practicing getting up and taking the stairs…exactly, she won’t be able to. Same as us.

Her eyesight is going as is her hearing…however, it is remarkable how she can still hear the sound of the treat bag open – selective hearing I think! And some days her walks are just a few meters long, after, which she turns to come home. Luckily, we’re next to the forest so that makes for a lot of interesting smells- if you’re a dog. But in no way are her walks exercise for me anymore. I’m glad that I don’t count on walking the dogs as my exercise. In my view, the dog walks are just a chore – part of our household obligations and Active Living. The dogs’ walk is their daily maintenance – physical, mental and emotional. It’s a big responsibility taking care of another being, which makes it even more important to master the skills of taking care of oneself first!

What did you do today for your body maintenance?

Let me know if you give this workout a try. Because each exercise is done only once, I think that just about anyone can try it – providing necessary modifications are made to suit your level, of course!

Video.Week #6 – DAYS 1&5

Here is Week #6.  The first progression for the Squat.

My nephew Peter is demonstrating.

The Chair Squat is a completely functional exercise.  You do it everyday.

INSTRUCTIONS:  Point your toes and knees forward, keep your legs parallel to each other.  Your torso remains static.  The only movement occurs at the hip, knee and ankle joints.  You will notice that as your knees bend forward and your hips shift backwards, your torso naturally tips forward; hinging from the hip joints NOT rounding from your spine.  It is a very simple and clean movement.  Spend two days this week doing this progression to establish a solid foundation for this movement as we will be adding on. Focus on precision of movement as opposed to completion.
For the rest of the week be aware each and every time you sit in a chair and get up.  Do you collapse into the chair, or do you use your muscles to support you? When you get up, do you twist sideways to help yourself gain momentum?  Think about how you move.

DAYS 1 & 5 (week #6)

1. 50 High Knees (pumping arms or forearms parallel to ground or hold chest)

2. 10 Chair Squat

3. Repeat circuit 4 times to equal 4 Rounds.

——————————————————————————————————-

DAYS 2, 4 & 6 = [50 High Knees + 20 Bend Down & Reach Up with Toe Raise] x 4.

DAYS 3 & 7 = [50 High Knees + 10 Incline Push Up] x 4.

——————————————————————————————————-

STRETCH YOUR BODY

Be sure to do a standing quadricep stretch and calf stretch as well as the other stretches mentioned in the previous weeks.  Throughout your day you can do a stretch here and there; while waiting for your computer to turn on, pumping gas etc.

—————————————————————————————————–
If you’ve been following these progressions since Week #1, by now you should be feeling well versed in these exercises and a nice little daily body maintenance habit is forming.

Reminder:  These weekly progressions are just an outline.

At anytime you can repeat the same week until you feel ready to move on to the next progression.  Not everyone will be ready to progress at the same rate and you should not feel defeated if if takes you longer to move on to the next week.  Go at your own pace and be consistent.  This is your experiment.